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what would you do if you learned you had alzheimer’s?

By October 24, 2011 - 5:52am
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When you think about bad things that could happen in your life, what frightens you most? For me, it is quite a short list 1) My daughter is seriously harmed. 2) I will have a bad accident and not be able to care for myself. 3) I will get dementia.

It seems as though I have been surrounded by dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease my entire life. First, it was my grandmothers. Then my uncle and next my Dad. After that, it was my mother-in-law who has been incapacitated with vascular dementia for a more than a decade. Four years ago, my own Mom started to show the first signs of what is probably Alzheimer’s. While medications have helped Mom immensely, they do not stop the steady march of the disease.

I’m often searching online for information about new trials or studies and I’ve read a stack of books on the subject. Larry King just hosted a very good special, “Unthinkable,” about Alzheimer’s that ran on CNN on May 1st. I’m hoping they will repeat it.

Today, I saw this article written by Erin Allday of the San Francisco Chronicle, “Going From Alzheimer’s Researcher to Patient.” The feature story centers on Rae Lyn Burke, a Northern-California career scientist specializing in vaccines, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s three years ago at age 60. Initially devastated, Rae Lynn has decided to fight back. She’s currently taking part in a clinical trial testing a new vaccine to treat the disease — ironically, the very same vaccine that she helped develop a decade ago. Click on the above link to see the full story.

Reading about Rae Lynn’s journey will cause you to pause and think: What would I do if this happened to me? Would I give up? Would I become angry and bitter? Or, would I push myself like Rae Lynn and make this my finest hour?

I don’t know how I would respond because when I think of getting Alzheimer’s I actually begin to panic and my throat starts to close up. It makes me very upset even to contemplate it. What I do know is that I’m very grateful to Rae Lynn and to others who are taking part in these very important drug trials.

Thank you for caring about those who will follow. You are heroes and we won’t forget you.

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Having recently done my Certification on Alzheimer's, it is a very scary thought. Honestly, there are times when I forget things and I wonder if I should worry because I'm in my mid twenties-- but then I realize that I have two kids and a full plate so I brush this off as "normal". However, I think that although early-onset is not as common as late-onset, it is still important to recognize any symptoms and realize that early onset progresses much faster than late onset which doesn't start until after 65.

For those of us who think that we may be susceptible, whether because of our family history, or simply because of fear, here are some symptoms to be on the look-out for:

Symptoms include:

Increasing trouble remembering things, such as
How to get to familiar places
Names of friends and family members
Where common objects are kept
Simple math
How to perform tasks (eg, cooking, dressing, bathing)
Trouble concentrating on tasks
Trouble completing sentences due to lost or forgotten words (progresses to a complete inability to speak)
Difficulty with daily life tasks such as bill paying and housekeeping
Inability to remember the date, time of day, season
Mood swings
Withdrawal, loss of interest in usual activities
Slow, shuffling walk
Poor coordination
Slowness and then loss of purposeful movement


Thanks for spreading awareness on Alzheimer's and other forms of Dementia. Hopefully, this thread will get lots of feedback on stories and ways that other's have dealt with Dementia that has affected them, friends, and their family members.



October 24, 2011 - 6:45am
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